People with HIV are at risk for blood vessel blockages, and recent research shows heart ultrasounds can help determine if these patients are more likely to suffer a serious or fatal heart attack
Heart attack among people with HIV who have abnormal heart ultrasound tests or stress echoes is 10 times greater than in the general population and more than three times higher than in people without HIV who have abnormal heart ultrasounds.
The researchers looked at whether stress echo can help predict risk in a high-risk group - HIV patients with known or suspected heart disease - and determine whether they have a high or low risk of heart attack and death in the future.
In conducting stress echoes on 311 HIV patients averaging 52 years of age with known or suspected heart disease, researchers found that 26 percent had abnormal ultrasounds. Within an average of about three years, there were 14 deaths due to a heart attack and 17 nonfatal heart attacks. It was concluded that the HIV patients who had normal stress echo tests had on average a less than 1 percent per year risk for serious or fatal heart attack - the same risk as in the general healthy population. In sharp contrast, the risk of heart attack among the HIV patients with abnormal stress echo test results was almost 12 percent per year.
It was found that all HIV patients with normal heart ultrasounds survived in the year following the test and 98 percent were alive at four years. The survival rates dropped to 92 percent at one year and 62 percent at four years for people with HIV that had abnormal stress echoes.